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Kerry Washington reflects on how 'Save the Last Dance' changed her life

The cast of the teen drama is celebrating the beloved movie's 20-year anniversary this week.
Prod DB A(C) MTV Films - Cort Madden Productions / DRSAVE THE LAST DANCE (SAVE THE LAST DANCE) de Thomas Carter 2001 USAavec Julia Stiles, Sean Patrick Thomas et Kerry Washingtondanser, boite de nuit, discotheque, fete
Julia Stiles, Sean Patrick Thomas and Kerry Washington all starred in 2001's "Save the Last Dance."Alamy Stock
/ Source: TODAY

Every actor yearns for that one big break and for Kerry Washington, it seems her role as Chenille in "Save the Last Dance" was precisely that part.

As she notes in a new Instagram photo, playing Chenille in the 2001 teen dance favorite (which had a milestone anniversary on Tuesday) "changed my life."

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"OH EM GEE!!!!! Save the Last Dance turns 20 years old today!" she wrote in the caption. "Playing Chenille changed my life. I read that script and I felt like I KNEW her. At the time, I also knew the narrative that was being served in culture about who Black teen moms are. And I knew that if done right, this was an opportunity to transform some stereotyped thinking and make this young woman REAL. And human. And deserving of love and attention. I loooooved being a part of this film This cast. This crew. So many 'slammin' memories!"

Julia Stiles played Sara while Kerry Washington portrayed Chenille in the 2001 coming-of-age romantic drama.Michael Tackett / Paramount / Shutterstock

Washington, who more recently starred in "Scandal," went on to earn an Emmy last year, and has two Golden Globe nominations. She also starred in "Little Fires Everywhere" last year, and can currently be seen in "The Prom" — a film in which she both sings and dances!

Kerry Washington at the 2018 Tony Awards in New York City.Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images

And if you've ever wondered where she picked up some of those dance chops, she told Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show" in 2016 that she had a very good teacher: Jennifer Lopez!

"I've been taking dance for a long time, since I was a little girl," she told the late-night host. "I had this very inspiring teacher named Larry Maldonado ... and he had an awesome substitute teacher named Jennifer, who would sometimes step in and teach. But then she left to move to L.A. and be on 'In Living Color.'"

Meanwhile, her "Last Dance" co-star Sean Patrick Thomas also made sure to remember the film's anniversary with his own Instagram memory.

"Save The Last Dance premiered 20 years ago and we shocked the world, including myself. Never imagined the film would be as beloved as it is," he wrote.

Happy anniversary to all!